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Business

Reformer to Lead Top Economic Advisors

The German government appointed Monday a new chief for its so-called "Five Wise Men" panel of economic advisers in a move aimed at defusing a highly public spat that observers say is damaging the body's reputation. One of the five experts -- Bert Rürup -- saw his contract extended by five years until 2010. And until 2008, he will head the body that has advised the government in economic matters for the past 41 years, the panel said in a statement. Rürup, 61, previously headed a committee in charge of reforming Germany's healthcare and pension insurance systems and has so far not taken sides in a public mud-slinging match between two other panel members, Wolfgang Wiegard and Peter Bofinger. Wiegard recently announced that he would step down as head of the panel, saying the atmosphere of debate had been "poisoned" since the arrival of Würzburg university professor Bofinger in March 2004. Unlike most of the other panel members, Bofinger is an exponent of Keynesian economics, arguing in his latest book that it was vital to kick-start demand to get the ailing German economy back on its feet.

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